COSTA MESA — The desire for profit sometimes trumps ethics in the business world, but one local faith organization wants to show that the two can go hand in hand.
The Orange Catholic Foundation, which is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, will hold its ninth annual Conference on Business and Ethics on Thursday morning at the Orange County/Costa Mesa Hilton hotel.
The half-day event will feature conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager and Father Seamus Finn, a board member at the New York-based Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
Foundation Executive Director Cindy Bobruk said she expects about 350 guests at the sold-out event.
The foundation will honor two local business leaders with its Bishop Todd D. Brown Award for Exemplary Business Integrity: Jacqueline DuPont, founder and chief executive of DuPont Residential Care in San Clemente and Assured InHome Care Inc. in Costa Mesa; and John O'Connor, founder of Anaheim-based Shamrock Supply Co. Inc.
At the conference, a panel will answer questions about the ethical dilemmas business leaders face. Bobruk said she hopes attendees walk away with the sense that they're not alone in their commitment to ethical career practices.
"In these days it's sometimes hard to practice your faith and admit to it in the workplace," Bobruk said. "This is an opportunity to feel you're being guided by faith-based decisions and Catholic values, taking the higher road and being as ethical as possible in the way you treat your employees and the way you do business."
Finn, the keynote speaker, is the director of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and works with Investing for Catholics. Bobruk calls him a "Wall Street watchdog."
Finn said he plans to talk about corporate responsibility and socially responsible investing. He said he encourages people to integrate their beliefs — such as caring for the environment and paying workers a fair wage — into their investment and business decisions.
"You don't have to sacrifice return on your investment or profit from your business by integrating either your beliefs or your values into that process," Finn said.
For Finn, the issue has been brought to the front burner because of the string of problems in the Middle East.
"What it does for me is shine a spotlight on that part of the world and ask a question about whether or not the U.S. has been turning a blind eye to the plight of a lot of citizens in these countries and imported refugee labor because we need the oil," he said.
But Finn, who has been pushing for social responsibility in business for more than two decades, said he sees reason for hope as more companies put the environment and people first with tags like organic and sweatshop-free.
"There's a reason to be optimistic I think because the consumer — the person who's out there buying a computer or a car or some piece of clothing — they're asking more questions about where these things come from," Finn said. "What I think is intriguing and encouraging is that it's not as difficult to get answers to these questions as it was 20 years ago. You can take our your iPhone or Android and if you have a question, you can put it in there and someplace out there in this vast web of Internet connectivity you're going to get some answers."
Proceeds from the conference support financial aid for Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Orange. The Orange Catholic Foundation is a charitable organization separate from the Diocese that supports aspects of faith in Orange County.
For more information, visit http://www.oc-foundation.org.